I can be a real Neanderthal when it comes to technology. I don't rush to embrace the latest and greatest. Nor am I interested in gadgets and the digital lifestyle. Instead I get enthused by the business practicality of technology in overcoming problems and transforming processes. If 25 years in IT has taught me one thing it is that the best products are the robust ones, which usually means they have been around for some time.
That said, my conservative attitude can put me in an award position as an IT analyst. Back in July a former colleague asked me to join his Facebook network. I'm embarrassed to say my initial reaction was: What's Facebook? Yes someone who professes to be an experienced analyst guiding people on their use of technology had not heard of the hottest social networking product in town.
My daughter Morgan had to educate me on why Facebook was the predominant PC application in her life. Then a Generation Y member at my Toastmaster's club gave a passionate speech on why she loves Facebook. In August I read that the Nielsen//NetRatings ranked Facebook as the most popular social networking site in the UK with over 6.5 million unique visitors in that month alone. News that Microsoft was reported to be buying a stake in Facebook followed. Now I was interested. As I learned more, I could see why it might appeal to people as a chit-chat forum, but didn't see much worth in social networking in the corporate world.
Fortunately, a New Zealand CIO was able to enlighten me. This person works at the Beca Group, an entrepreneurial engineering company. Starting life with three employees in Auckland just after the First World War, Beca now has 2000 staff and operations in 70 countries. In particular, it had the foresight to get involved in China early on. Key to its growth is the ability to attract and retain quality staff. It may be fashionable now to talk about a skills crisis, but companies like Beca have long known that their success depended on the calibre of their employees.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.